By Mariam Sankanu
People’s Democracy Movement has held a symposium on the theme From Dictatorship To Democracy on Friday at the American Corner on Kairaba Avenue.
The four panelists were; Madi Jobarteh who spoke on Accountability, Gibairu Janneh spoke on the Democratization of The Gambia, Alhagie Barrow spoke on System Change and Lala Touray spoke on the need for political awareness and empowerment of youth and women to participate in politics.
Madi, the first speaker, said if Gambians don’t know their rights and responsibilities, bad history will keep repeating itself in the country.
Referring to the government as the people’s servants, he said that if every Gambian held this notion and saw themselves as the masters, then it will be easier to hold their leaders to account. Otherwise, Gambians will still be a people gripped by the claws of poverty because services won’t be provided as expected as accountability in the country is very weak, he said.
Gibairu, who described democracy as a very difficult term to define, said that the whole concept of democracy and dictatorship are created by the people themselves. Using the former president Yahya Jammeh as an example, he said that he was made a dictator by Gambians themselves and if Gambians don’t hold their leaders to account, they will continue to create more dictators.
Alhagie Barrow stressed that the main thing retarding the process of system change in The Gambia is people’s attitudes.”Until we are willing to change our attitudes, nothing will change for us,” he emphasized.
One of the questions raised was “How new is the New Gambia?”In response to this, Madi said that he has not seen any changes so far.
Nyundu Drammeh, the moderator of the event disagreed with him on that. He highlighted that some things like freedom of expression is more accessible to Gambians and the judiciary for example has been Gambianized.
Madi still argued that even though such changes have been made, the system has not been completely changed because some of the laws the new government inherited from the former regime that threatened people’s complete freedom, have not still been revoked.
The four panelists called for attitudinal change. They referred to it as a need if Gambians want to see a better Gambia.
Lala highlighted that some of our social values, instead of moving us forward are taking us backward.